European society is polyethnic and multicultural. This means that the history of Jewish towns and communities, as well as that of the Holocaust, is not only relevant to Jewish history, but an integral part of the history of Europe as a whole, particularly in ESJF’s project countries. We believe that understanding the impact of Jewish communities on the life of towns and regions will help young people form nuanced attitudes to cultural heritage, which, in the long run, will help promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue in a multicultural, diverse Europe.
Through ESJF’s educational outreach programmes, secondary school students are encouraged to preserve and maintain the historical memory of local Jewish communities, including cemetery sites. Focusing on local spaces emphasises not only the close connection between Jewish life and the communities in which students live today, but also serves to de-mystify cemetery sites.
This is of particular importance in the areas in which, in the wake of the Holocaust, Jewish communities no longer exist, as these cemeteries may be represent the last physical testament to Jewish presence. It is therefore vital that young people learn about this material heritage and how to place it in its larger historical and socio-cultural context.
ESJF works with local stakeholders and educators to reach young people. It is our aim to reach out to the organisations already active in these regions of Europe, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in order to build on existing networks and expertise, thereby sharing and optimising pedagogical approaches. By working with national and regional Jewish communities at every opportunity, we aim to educate and inspire the next generation to protect and preserve local Jewish heritage.
Currently, we are carrying out educational projects in: Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
ESJF Teacher Training Seminars Coming Up
As part of our new EU-funded Pilot Project: “Rescue by Recognition: Mapping Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”, ESJF is working with our partners at Centropa to carry out educational programmes across Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
The first events of the programme will consist of two-day teacher training seminars in each of the countries, in which veteran educators from Centropa and ESJF will lead workshops providing participants with all the tools necessary to bring Jewish heritage to their classrooms in a meaningful, engaging way.
Participants will have the opportunity to attend talks from experts on Jewish heritage, workshops on developing lesson plans and making educational films, screenings of short documentaries by Centropa and ESJF, and guided tours of local Jewish cemeteries and synagogues.
This is a fantastic opportunity for educators with an interest in teaching Jewish heritage.
Poland Location: Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow Date: August 23rd-24th
Lithuania Location: Kaunas Date: August 25th-26th
Slovakia Location: Banska Bystrica Date: September 13th-14th
Croatia Location: Zagreb Date: September 13th-14th
Ukraine Location: Ivano Frankivsk Date: October 14th-15th
Hungary Location: Debrecen Date: October 18th-19th
ESJF to Launch Online Drone Seminars in May 2020
The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative is launching an online course on the applications of UAVs and photogrammetric modeling in heritage protection projects. The course is open to all who are interested, but a science, engineering, architecture, or other technical background is recommended.
Surveys and photogrammetry are among the core areas of expertise at the ESJF. We have developed a training package that teaches the cutting edge UAV and 3D modeling technology we deploy. Beyond the technical training, they are given an introduction to Jewish history and heritage, specifically the significance of cemeteries for Jewish life. Our first pilot outreach program was successfully run in two Ukrainian higher education institutions earlier this year.
Due to the pandemic, we abandoned plans to arrange similar events in Greece, and are instead delivering the training online, allowing students to join in from the comfort of their homes. Specific topics covered will include: – Where drones can be used and their value in comparison to traditional methods of data acquisition. – When and where to use different types of UAV (quadrocopter, fixed-wing drones, VTOL drones, etc.). – Data processing, and photogrammetric modeling. – Drone applications in heritage preservation and other fields such as construction, mining, forestry, oil and gas, and more.
The course will be available in May. Those interested can sign up here.
Teaching 20th century multicultural Greek history through Jewish family stories, promoting interreligious tolerance in the Balkans
Educational activities are strictly regulated by the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, and the ESJF developed its educational work in accordance with their requirements.
We partnered with the NGO Centropa, whose work focuses on teaching 20th century Jewish history. In cooperation with the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki (JCT), and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Centropa and ESJF are organising a teacher training seminar in Thessaloniki in December 2019. The event will bring together 37 educators to discuss and share their experiences of teaching 20th century Jewish history.
Secondary school activities will follow. For more details, please check back later.
Teacher training: Location: Thessaloniki Educators reached: 37 School activities: Locations: tbc Students reached: tbc Time period: from December 2019
Lithuania seminar in December 2019
Lithuanian Jewish heritage is extensively mapped, and the educational landscape is well-established. The ESJF offers two key contributions here: the specific focus on cemeteries, and an emphasis on reaching students in schools further away from the urban centres.
Teacher training will take place in targeted schools in Lithuania. A professional educator from the Jewish Community in Lithuania (LŽB) will advise and prepare teachers to bring Jewish history to their classes, with a direct focus on local cemetery sites. Students will visit the Jewish Museum in Vilnius and, later, their local cemetery. They will prepare presentations about what they have learnt, which will then be evaluated by the educator.
Teacher training: Locations (intended): Trakai, Želva, Moletai, Bagaslaviskis, Žiežmariai Educators reached: 10 School activities: Locations (intended): Trakai, Želva, Moletai, Bagaslaviskis, Žiežmariai Students reached (intended): 250 Time period: from December 2019
Moldova seminar in October 2019
Moldova has no centralised curriculum that includes Jewish history. As such, educational activities are needed to introduce the subject itself. This means that teacher training is an especially crucial element of the ESJF’s educational work in Moldova: sustainability hinges on convincing teachers to broaden the scope of their work without being required to do so by the curriculum.
Student activities will then be used to build on the teacher training. ESJF constructed its educational programme in close cooperation with the Moldovan Jewish Community. Dr. Irina Shikova, an expert on Jewish heritage in Moldova with years of experience in dealing with cemetery sites, leads pupils from selected schools across the country on educational excursions to Jewish cemeteries.
Locations: Briceva, Falesti (ongoing) Students reached: 45 (ongoing) Time period: from October 2019
Slovakia seminar in October 2019
In Slovakia, education on Jewish history focuses predominantly on the Holocaust, although the actual curriculum content is flexible and determined by the individual preferences of teachers and principals. The ESJF decided to include elements of Jewish history beyond the Shoah, focusing on the Jewish life cycle through the material evidence provided by cemeteries.
When developing outreach programmes for Slovakia, ESJF worked closely with Dr. Ján Hlavinka and Michala Lônčíková, educators from the Holocaust Documentation Center (HDC) in Bratislava, who develop educational activities in partnership with the Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia (UZZNO).
During a teacher training seminar for seven teachers from eastern Slovakia, participants made worksheets designed to encourage their students to explore the Jewish material heritage of their own towns. The HDC educators then accompanied the teachers and their classes on field-trips to the Jewish cemetery sites. Students were taught to interpret the gravestones in order to better understand and respect the lives of those buried there.